UP documentary spotlights dwindling practice of traditional midwifery

Posted on March 07, 2024

In a world swiftly embracing Western medical practices, the expertise of traditional midwives is silently diminishing. However, a ground-breaking documentary by two University of Pretoria (UP) professors aims to shed light on this issue. Titled "Vroedvrou (Midwife)," the film is set to premiere in Springbok, Northern Cape, on 23 March 2024.

Directed by Prof Siona O’Connell, a professor in African studies and a member of UP’s School of the Arts, alongside Prof Loretta Feris, UP Vice-Principal: Academic, "Vroedvrou" emerged from Prof Feris's research. The inspiration came from the Nama community in Namaqualand, who expressed concern over the fading knowledge of their ageing midwives. Prof Feris, driven by the community's plea to preserve this invaluable knowledge, embarked on a mission to document their stories.

"This was a very personal project for me because I am from the Northern Cape," Prof Feris reveals, "and I feel strongly about the role of women supporting community development." She underscores the crucial contributions of these midwives, often providing emergency healthcare to mothers and babies without formal training or remuneration.

Prof O’Connell, recognising the broader significance of the film, emphasises its universal appeal. "It speaks about what it means to be pregnant, give birth, and what is necessary for new mothers to flourish," she states. Moreover, she highlights the film's potential as teaching material across various academic disciplines.

"Vroedvrou (Midwife)" promises to be more than a documentary; it's a testament to the resilience and wisdom of traditional midwives, urging viewers to re-evaluate their understanding of knowledge and healthcare systems. As the curtains rise on this cinematic journey, it invites viewers to embark on a transformative exploration of the human experience.

As anticipation builds for the premiere, audiences can catch a glimpse of the film's essence through its trailer, which offers a moving preview of the narratives awaiting exploration.

Watch the trailer for the documentary.


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